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Smart Planning Leads to Attainable Paid Search Goals

Smart Planning Leads to Attainable Paid Search Goal

Paid search can be a tough nut to crack, but it can also be an extremely lucrative marketing tool once you understand the landscape and begin leveraging your opportunities. If you don’t set clear objectives and goals from the outset, however, there’s no way to achieve (much less measure) success. And attainable paid search goals begin with honest, open dialogue.

Paid Search Is a Key Component of Your Holistic Digital Marketing Campaigns

The first step in any paid campaign is to meet with key stakeholders to develop a plan that clearly identifies your team’s goals, a timeframe in which to either achieve those goals or alter your approach, and how this initiative fits into your larger marketing strategy. Ask yourself these basic questions to get started:

  • Why are we implementing a paid search campaign?
    Businesses implement paid search campaigns for myriad reasons, but in most cases, launching a paid initiative is critical for:

    • Maintaining brand positioning on search engine results pages (SERPs)
    • Driving traffic to a webpage or landing page
    • Generating conversions in the form of contact information or revenue
    • Securing RSVPs to webinars or other digital or in-person events
  • What are our fundamental expectations for this campaign?
    When discussing this question, you don’t need to develop clearly defined goals or objectives (at least not yet). Just work together to identify what you’re hoping to achieve. Do you want to build an organic list for an email blast? Or perhaps you want to drive traffic to a specific section of your website to capitalize on seasonal opportunities. The important thing is to make sure the general reason for the campaign is universally understood.
  • Do we have the right personnel and resources in place to succeed?
    This is a critical question. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, if you don’t have the right people, the proper tools, and a comfortable budget, you’re doomed from the start. Creating, managing, optimizing, and maintaining paid search campaigns is very difficult and requires painstaking attention to detail and constant vigilance. You should have experienced, capable individuals overseeing the campaign. And you should provide them with tools they need to succeed (SpyFu, SEMRush, etc.) as well as the budget they need to be cautiously aggressive.
  • Do we need to create any additional resources to complement the campaign?
    If you are running a brand protection search campaign designed to redirect to your website, then the answer to this question is probably “no.” If, however, you are running basically any other type of campaign, then the answer is likely a resounding “yes!” Here are just a few of the potential assets you will need to create your campaign, the associated creative, and effective landing pages:
    • Display Ads
    • Informative and Useful Whitepaper or Infographic
    • Testimonials
    • Professional Videos and Photos
    • Website Forms
    • Email Campaigns

The list could go on much further, which is just one reason you really need to understand your fundamental goals and the resources necessary to achieve them.

  • Are we willing to see this campaign through potential challenges and obstacles?
    Regardless of how much planning and research you conduct, the early stages of a paid search campaign can be brutal. Money seems to disappear into thin air with almost no return on investment, and the people clicking on your ads don’t match your persona or targeted regions. Some of this is basic human error, but most of it is just the consequences of a young campaign. All marketing initiatives suffer growing pains — perhaps none more so than paid search.
  • What type of campaign do we want to run?
    Many companies create paid campaigns to protect their brands from “conquesting” — when competitors use your brand-specific keywords against you by outbidding for them and siphoning away your potential traffic. (If this is happening, there are other methods unrelated to paid search you can use to protect your brand — contact us to learn more.)If you’re looking to be more aggressive in the marketplace, though, you might want to create broad-match keyword search campaigns, highly targeted display campaigns, or even email remarketing campaigns. Typically, display campaigns are meant to drive traffic, whereas remarketing campaigns are meant to generate conversions. Knowing what you want to achieve will inform how you pursue that success.

RELATED: Is Paid Search Right For Your Firm?

Moving From Brainstorming to Planning

Once you and your colleagues have answers to each of the questions above, it’s time to begin planning your campaign, which is where you establish your goals and objectives. At this point, the conversation moves from basic expectations to desired outcomes. You might be expecting to drive traffic or generate conversions, but to what extent and to what end? In essence, the question of “how?” becomes “how much?”

Answers to questions about your goals for the campaign are going to rely on your purpose, tactics, and budget. For example, if you are trying to collect RSVPs for an onsite event, you likely have a capacity limit, which means you have a clearly defined goal. On the other hand, if the purpose of the campaign is to collect as many contact listings as possible for a monthly newsletter, there likely isn’t a ceiling.

But even for campaigns designed to create as much interest as possible, you want to make sure the leads you are generating are qualified leads. Conversions are great, but what’s the point of adding someone to your list if they’re not actually interested in your product or service? The best way to ensure qualified leads is to use targeted keywords and placements and tailor your copy for your ideal audience segment.

When establishing your paid search goals, it’s also best to work in reverse. Determine the amount of revenue, traffic, conversions, etc. that you want to create and then consider the variables necessary to reach your objective. For instance, if your healthcare organization wants to add 10,000 new members in a year, it will help to research industry metrics to understand how many impressions you will need to get enough clicks and how many of those clicks you need to become conversions (leads). Further, you’ll need to have a percentage in mind for how many qualified leads will actually become members. Once you have a good grasp on those figures, you can assign an adequate budget and also let your team know the expectations from the outset.

Goals depend on expectations, and expectations are cultivated through open and honest conversations among key stakeholders that then trickle down to invested employees. As you go about developing a plan for your paid search initiatives, be sure to include the right people in all relevant conversations. This way, you can get quality input from multiple perspectives and rely on the people you trust most to provide the information you need for great campaigns that meet and exceed your goals.

Related: Paid Advertising — The Human Element

Contact LaFleur for All Your Paid Search Needs

LaFleur is staffed with certified AdWords specialists who have extensive experience in a wide variety of paid search approaches — including social and programmatic. We believe the best campaigns are built on a foundation of dialogue, research, and consistency. Paid search can be frustrating, but there’s no problem we can’t solve when we work together and use the resources at our disposal.

If you’ve been considering a paid search initiative or are struggling with your existing campaigns, please contact LaFleur today by completing this brief form or calling (888) 222-1512. We are happy to discuss your business model and expectations or review your current campaigns to give an honest assessment of what is working and what isn’t. There is never any pressure to sign an agreement, and we are always willing to give great advice and point you in the right direction — even if you choose to keep your business elsewhere.


Brown, K. (2017, April 25). Search vs Display Advertising in 2017. Vertical Measures. Retrieved from

Long, J. (2014, August 4). 8 paid search marketing tips for beginners. HuffPost. Retrieved from


What Is a Conversion? And How to Get More of Them for Your Firm

Conversions Are the Single Most Important Element of Legal Marketing

Today we’re going to condense the entire legal marketing enterprise down to a single word: conversion. That is, transforming a user into a lead by encouraging them to take a specific action that results in capturing some aspect of their personal information—usually an email address or a phone number.   (more…)

10 Minutes with Sowmya Padigi

Sowmya Padigi is the newest member of the LaFleur team, serving as the company’s paid search advertising specialist. Before joining LaFleur, she worked for Google in India for more than five years as an AdWords account planner. She left that position in order to move to the United States to be with her husband, who had accepted a job here in Michigan. In the ensuing years, Sowmya went back to school to obtain her master’s degree in business communications from Grand Valley State University and took time off related to the birth of the couple’s first child before joining LaFleur in early 2017.  (more…)

Is Paid Search Right for Your Firm?

Full disclosure: the question asked in the title of this piece is rhetorical. Regardless of your firm’s size, marketing budget, or practice area(s), pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a no-brainer if you want to keep pace with or outperform the competition. Whether it’s just a small branded campaign or a dense, coordinated matrix of targeted strategies, your firm should be leveraging paid search. If you’re not, you’ll want to act quickly — but carefully — to capitalize on paid search opportunities before the market becomes completely oversaturated.

Many of you might have heard that legal keywords are consistently among the most expensive to bid on successfully in Google AdWords, and this is definitely the case. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, of the 100 most expensive Google AdWords keywords (as of May, 2016), 78 were related to the legal sector, including 9 of the top 10 overall. So it might seem reckless to get involved in such an expensive and risky game, right?

Well, yes and no: Haphazardly entering a dozen or so keywords into a nondescript ad group redirecting to an irrelevant landing page on your existing site without performing a complete audit beforehand will not result in success. It will, however, result in wasted spend and a misinformed aversion to paid search, which is a perception we encounter with new clients time and time again.

Successful paid search initiatives depend on how your campaigns are structured and maintained relative to your firm’s budget and goals. You don’t have to bid on $200 keywords to be successful with paid search, but you do have to carefully research the medium, your firm’s capabilities within this medium, and how your competitors are approaching this digital space. You then have to proceed with caution, implementing best practices and taking calculated risks.

Let’s take a look at some common strategies that we recommend depending on a firm’s size, scope, budget, and marketing goals.

Protection from Conquestors

The practice of conquesting ― a marketing strategy employed by rival firms to bid on keywords specifically related to your firm’s brand ― is what makes the titular question rhetorical. If you and your firm are not protecting your web properties from the competition, you’re vulnerable and exposed to brand manipulation. Thankfully, protecting yourself from conquestors is relatively easy.

By creating a campaign in which you bid on terms exclusively related to your firm, you can protect your brand online and discourage this form of B2B bullying. Even if a firm has already begun conquesting prior to your firm creating a branded campaign, once you do so, the competitor(s) will likely realize their game is up and that the costs incurred to capitalize off your firm’s name aren’t worth the benefits. This is because the rival firm’s campaigns will lack relevancy due to inconsistent keyword correlation between the search terms they are using (i.e., terms related to your brand) and their web properties, forcing them to pay more in order to achieve an optimal ad ranking.

Lastly, be sure to register a trademark and copyright for your firm’s name and other valuable branding elements, such as your slogan and logo. Once you have these legal protections in place, rival firms are legally prohibited from incorporating elements of your firm and branding into their marketing strategies. This is an inexpensive process, but it can be lengthy, so be sure to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office immediately if you haven’t already.

Search Campaigns

For those firms looking for more than just brand protection from conquestors, we recommend developing a conservative search campaign that gradually compounds into a more aggressive approach once you determine which keywords are the most cost-effective. Again, legal-specific keywords are among the most expensive in the PPC landscape, so you should use digital tools to conduct thorough research before launching a search campaign.

Among those that we find the most helpful are SpyFu, SEM Rush, and the Google Keyword Planner, which can be utilized within the AdWords platform. These tools allow the user to project overall costs, clicks, impressions, and cost per click (CPC), among dozens of other vital metrics.

They also allow you to get a sense of how your competitors are structuring their campaigns and which keywords they are bidding on most frequently. Additionally, using these tools to research potential search campaigns helps you establish a baseline PPC budget, as well the chance to discover “long-tail keywords” ― longer and more specific phrases that are built as extensions of more general keywords.

Finally, in order to keep costs down and optimize your return on investment, you should pay close attention to keyword match types when structuring your campaigns. These include:

  • Broad Match appears whenever a user searches any keyword you’re bidding on in any order. This match type can generate a lot of irrelevant traffic, so use it sparingly and keep a watchful eye on all of your broad match keywords.
  • Broad Match Modified allows more control over your user audience by including terms within the larger key phrase that must be included in a search query in order for your firm to appear on the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Exact Match is the optimal match type for firms that are looking to mitigate wasted spend. Implementing this match type with your keywords ensures that your firm will only appear on the SERP when a potential client searches a query including those exact terms in your predetermined sequence. We recommend using exact match for all key phrases when initially launching your campaign — and then expanding match types as you determine which terms are having the most (and least) success.
  • Phrase Match is like broad match modified, in that is allows for more specific targeting than broad match and less than exact match. Phrase match key phrases will only appear when the search query is entered in the exact sequence of your choosing, although other terms can be included before or after the phrase. It’s a flexible match type that should highlight the essence of your firm to capture a wide yet targeted audience.

Display and Remarketing

Compared to search campaigns (branded or more aggressive), display campaigns are relatively inexpensive, which again stresses the rhetorical nature of the question posed in the title of this piece. Whereas legal search term CPC can extend well into the hundreds of dollars, display placements (the websites on which your display ads are placed) rarely exceed $4-5 dollars. And while search campaigns are more likely to reap trackable conversions, display ads significantly increase brand awareness through innumerable impressions and hundreds of clicks to your firm’s website or other web properties. And this substantial uptick in clicks, calls, and form-fills are destined to bring results with an effective traffic management strategy in place.

A vital extension of display advertising is remarketing. Remarketing ads appear on various websites after a user has already visited your website or other web properties on which you’ve placed a remarketing tag. Best practices dictate that you should create banner ads for your remarketing campaign that maintain brand guidelines but are distinct from the messaging of your display ads.

Whereas display ads should be more general in nature (redirecting to your homepage) or divided by practice area (redirecting to corresponding webpages), remarketing ads should focus on providing tangible benefits to the potential client and redirect to dedicated landing pages where the client can then capitalize on the offer. In most instances, this includes offering a free downloadable whitepaper or infographic expressly related to their legal issues (“Steps to Take Following a Car Accident,” for example) in exchange for minimal contact information (email address, first name, and possibly an optional phone number).

The digital assets you’ll need to create and launch a successful remarketing campaign (banner ads, whitepaper or infographic, dedicated landing page(s), etc.) can be a bit pricey depending on the production value of these elements. When properly built and executed, however, you should expect to see a significant return on your investment while also building consumer confidence and trust by enhancing your firm’s perceived value as a thought leader in your respective practice areas.

Contact LaFleur Legal Marketing for a Free PPC Consultation

At LaFleur Legal Marketing, our paid search marketing strategists are certified in Google AdWords and have a wealth of experience specifically in the legal sector. Our experience has taught us to take a cautious approach to PPC (especially in the highly competitive legal vertical), and our first priority is to do no harm — we abhor wasted spend and structure all of our clients’ campaigns to optimize ROI.

If you’re interested in learning more about our past success, please click here to read our most recent case study. If you like what you see, we would love to set up a free consultation during which we can discuss your firm’s needs and how we can help.

Please call us today at (888) 222-1512 or complete this form to speak directly with one of our marketing representatives about paid search or any other form of digital marketing, including content development, search engine optimization, social media marketing, automation, and many other tactics we employ on behalf of our valued clients.

Related Articles


Da Cunha, M. (2016, November 20). Law firm marketing: 9 tips for winning more clients with PPC. Wordstream. Retrieved from

Lake, C. (2016, May 31). The most expensive 100 Google AdWords keywords in the US. SearchEngineLand. Retrieved from

Audit Your Web Properties Before Launching a PPC Campaign

When it comes to integrating a paid search campaign for your law firm, the question isn’t if you should, but rather when you should. There’s no doubt that a carefully considered, well-maintained, and consistently-optimized paid search, display, and/or remarketing campaign can do wonders for your online presence, lead generation, and client acquisition, but that doesn’t mean that you should dive in headfirst without first assessing your end of the pool. (more…)